What could be more inviting on a cold rainy evening? Something heartwarming and soupy with an equally warm buttery toast? Or something cheesy, warm and tummy satisfying golden brown baked rice straight from the oven?
My close friends know I have recently embarked on a gluten-free diet. It will be 4 weeks on Sat 10 Feb. Not so much to lose weight or anything but more to see if my bowels will improve. You see, I have had Crohn's disease for the longest of time. Since I was 18 and after 28 year later and countless steroids and other anti-inflammatory medicine which didn't work, I have decided to see if changes in diet can make a difference. After this one month, I have lost close to 1 kg (which is a bonus) but my bowels ...hmm..it seems better only slightly. You think its too soon to tell? I know I'm not allergic to wheat when I did a blood test years ago. Probably won't make a big difference when it concerns my bowels but I do feel lighter around my belly area. My clothes fit better and friends have noticed I seem to have better skin and lost a bit of weight. Yay me!
You know what I miss the most with this GF diet? Not the scones nor the cakes. It’s my breads. No more toasts with my milk tea when I frequent my favourite cafe Killineys @ Siglap. No more nutty fragrant breads with mushroom soup at Cedele. I tried GF breads - it tasted awful. Rather go without them! When I make sandwiches for my girls in the morning for their school lunches, I'm so tempted to tear a piece and pop it in. After all, no one is awake at home besides me in that crazy ungodly early 5am mornings. No one will know right? Soft on the inside but crusty on the outside bread...Sigh. But so far I have not given into my temptations. I'll perservere and see how it goes.
Anyway, since I can't eat pasta because of the durum wheat ( I have tried other types of pasta but it just didn't taste right!), I had to substitute pasta with rice in this recipe. You know how they say necessity is the mother of all inventions? So, I remembered the baked mushroom rice from Pastamania a restaurant I frequent. I decided to replicate it as best as I could based on my memory and my tastebuds. This is definitely one of those dishes that doesn't require much time or effort. So, give it a go and be surprised at its simplicity but yet at its deliciousness :)
Ingredients (for 2 as a main meal)
1 cup of uncooked rice
2 cups of vegetable broth
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic
1 tin (200gm) button mushrooms (Narcissus brand)
100gm baby spinach, washed
Salt & Pepper
2.5 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1) Preheat your oven to 180 deg C. Cook the rice with the veg broth as you would usually cook it. Keep aside once cooked.
2) Heat a skillet and melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the minced garlic.
3) Fry for 2-3 mins, till light brown.
4) Add the mushrooms and fry a little. Note that they have already been boiled before being canned and therefore need minimum frying time.
5) Now add the washed spinach and cook till wilted. Add the seasonings. Switch off the fire and keep aside.
6) Mix the cheddar cheese with the cooked rice.
7) Butter the baking casserole you'll be using. Tip the cheese rice mix over into your baking casserole. I just got this gorgeous terracotta coloured Jamie Oliver's baking dish. I just had to use it for this post!
8) Mix the cooked spinach and mushrooms into this cheesy rice. Mix well. Check for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
9) Flatten it with back of the spoon.
10) Top it off with mozzarella cheese and bake in the middle shelf of your oven till golden brown roughly 30-40 mins.
Enjoy heartwarming Baked Cheesy Rice with the goodness of spinach and mushrooms.
Yes, my recipe for these energy balls is my 200th recipe!! Surprising isn’t it? My family went ‘It’s time to publish a cookbook!’ I have been trying to publish one but somehow something comes up and it never gets underway. The cost of publishing any book is quite high and me being so busy with my docent training now, I don’t have time to even doll up myself of when I go out like I used to in the past!
These no bake energy balls are Super easy to roll up and were made for those with a gluten-free diet and for those who need a quick energy pick me up. They are made with natural ingredients and with no added sugar or hidden sugars. My Husband has started on this gluten free diet in an attempt to lose weight. He has successfully lost 7 kgs in the last 6 months! He is quite a lean machine now. :))
These balls can be kept for a week, if refrigerated.
Ingredients ( makes 20 small balls)
1cup instant oats
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
6-8 prunes chopped small
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsps Chia seeds
2tbsps coconut oil
1/2 cup honey ( if you want slightly sweeter energy balls)
Some desiccated coconut ( optional)
1) Put every ingredient except the desiccated coconut in a mixing bowl.
2) Mix everything up.
3) Place them in the refrigerator for 30 mins and then roll them up into balls.
4) You can decorate them with a little desiccated coconut or eat them just like that.
Black eyed peas like any other beans or pulses are packed with protein. I had not made a curry using these black eyed peas for quite some time. I had just bought a packet at a neighbourhood fresh food market yesterday morning with plans to cook it one of these days and by chance I was able to have these peas for lunch at my fellow docent trainee and friend's house. Urvashi is from Washington DC but she should be a mascot for Singapore. She loves the different cultures, the amazing weather, the wide variety of food and the ease of getting around so easily in Singapore because of our excellent public transport system. No wonder she plans to get her own place soon.
Upon entering her museum like apartment on the 17th floor of her condominium in the east of Singapore, the jaw dropping fabulous view of the sea blew me away!
She served us pink lemonade and vegetable pakoras in skewers dipped in mint coriander chutney. Then, it was followed by a scrumptious lunch all home made. Dry spiced cauliflowers, Cottage cheese curry, black eyed peas curry and a unique lemongrass eggplant dish. She had also prepared butter chicken for the non vegetarians. We finished our lunch with cold strawberries dipped in melted chocolate and a rose flavored ice cream garnished with betel leaf strips and dried rose petals. Such ingenious ideas for dessert! I should have taken photos. Then, you'll know what I mean.
Urvashi was kind enough to share her recipes. I decided to post the recipe of the black eyed peas curry here because it was quite simple and so straightforward.
Ingredients (for 4)
1 cup of dried black eyed peas soaked overnight.
2 tbsp canola oil
for tempering the oil - 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cardamoms and 1 bay leaf
1 large onion, chopped small
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 green chilli, sliced
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder ( Everest or Kitchen King brand)
1/2 cup tomato paste
some coriander leaves, chopped
1) Wash and boil the black eyed peas with some salt for 5 minutes in pressure cooker. Otherwise, you can boil in a small pot but it might take longer. Drain and set aside.
2) Pour 2 tbsp canola oil in a medium saucepan, then temper the dry spices. Remove these spices and discard. Keep the oil.
3) In the same pot, fry the chopped onion, ginger garlic paste and sliced green chilli.
4) Upon turning translucent, not brown, add in the spice powders and fry till oil separates.
5) Then add the tomato paste and fry further. After 5 minutes , switch off the flame and then add a tbsp of this delicious curry paste into the cooked black eyed peas. Add some water and then check for salt.
We had our last book club meeting for 2017 today. Being the start of the school holidays in Singapore, kids of our book club members were invited as well. Which kid (or adults too for the matter) isn't fond of potatoes? Its a sure winner in any party or any gathering and in any form - shoestrings, hashbrowns, tater tots or curly fries. Fried, mashed, in a salad or in a casserole like what I made today.
This dish Hashbrown Casserole is also called Texas potatoes. I'm not too sure of its origin but if its called Cheesy Potatoes or Texas Potatoes, it still tastes divine and sinfully rich!
Ingredients (for 10 by 8 inch casserole - serves 6-8)
1 kg (2 pounds) frozen hashbrowns, thawed at room temperature (Farmland)
400ml (1pint) sour cream
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (Campbell)
2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
1 medium yellow, finely chopped
1/2 cup melted butter (or if you prefer something less sinful use canola oil)
4 cups of crushed cornflakes
Salt & Pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 180 deg C 0r 350 deg F. Break up the thawed hashbrowns into small pieces in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cheddar cheese, mushroom soup, sour cream and onion. I lightly fried my onion to give it more flavor. But you can do it without.
2) Mix them up till well incorporated. Tip it over into the casserole.
3) Heat a small pot and melt the butter. Then add in the crushed cornflakes. Mix well on low heat for 3-5 mins.
4) Evenly spread this crunchy cornflake topping on the prepared hashbrown mix in the casserole.
5) Bake for 40 mins till you see it all golden brown and sizzling on the sides. Enjoy with a simple garden salad and Tomato Herb Pasta perhaps?
An easy pudding that you can whip up under an hour and is low in calories and sugar. Full of tangy lemon and passionfruit goodness, it is sure to become a family favourite. As what my sister June said after a taste test 'it was so refreshing to the palate!'
Ingredients (yields 6 servings )
75gm melted butter
10 tbsps brown sugar
185ml skim milk
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup lemon juice
50ml passionfruit pulp (about 2 passionfruits)
1 tsp lemon rind, finely grated
50gm self raising flour
Extra passionfruit pulp to serve
a few sprigs of mint leaves
6 large ramekins and a roasting pan
1) Preheat oven to 180deg C. Lightly grease the ramekins with butter. Set aside.
2) Place the melted butter,brown sugar,milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, passionfruitpulp, lemon rind and flour into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
3) Use electric beater to beat the egg whites till soft peaks form
4) Fold 1/3 of the egg white into the passionfruit mix and then the remaining egg white till well incoporated.
5) Divide the mix into the 6 prepared ramekins (I had space for only 4). Place them in a roasting pan and pour boiling water slowly to the pan till it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
6) Bake for 15 mins till its golden brown on top and the pudding slips away from the ramekin sides.
7) Top with more passionfruit and a small sprig of mint leave for a little bit of colour!
Cranberries and pumpkins are so synonymous with Thanksgiving, don't you think? I had cranberries to unload. Sure I can just gobble them up in a go but I thought I would rather use it in a batch of cookies and enjoy this delicious tart sweet fruits longer. The pretty colours of bright gorgeous green of the pistachios and deep magenta red of the cranberries are so attention-grabbing that you could use this colour combination during your Christmas food preparation as well. The dough can be prepared in advance and kept up to a month in the freezer. The night before you are gonna bake them, simply place them in the fridge section. The next day, cut the cookie dough log into slices and bake. As simple as that!
Ingredients (for 48 roughly 1.5inch cookies)
175gm butter, softened
80gm brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
220gm plain flour
75gm cranberries, chopped
50gm pistachios, chopped
1) Mix the softened butter with the vanilla essence and brown sugar granules, using a wooden spoon.
2) Add in the flour and give it another mix using the same wooden spoon.
3) Add in the cranberries and pisctachios now. You may have to get your hands all doughy and messy here. Use your fingers to incorporate everything well. Just look at these gorgeous colours!
4) Mix well and then separate the dough into two on a rolling board. At this point, switch on your oven to 180 deg C.
5) Roll each dough into logs. Cling wrap them and freeze the logs if you are going to use them later.
6) You can either just slice them into roughly irregular circular discs or if you want perfect circles or other designs, use cooker cutters. If the dough is too soft, place it in the freezer for 10 mins.
I used a scone cutter to cut out some almost perfect circular cookies. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and cut them out.
7) Place the cookies on a baking tray lined with baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 mins at the most.
8) Enjoy with a light tea because as we all know these yummy shortbread babies are not exactly that light!!
A twist to our regular banana cake with the substitution of half the salf raising flour with Almond flour. My banana cakes are very light as they are low in sugar and I only use canola oil. With this change, a slightly rich and moisture rich banana cake ensued. Try it to believe it!!
Ingredients (yields two 7 x 2 inch high cakes or one 7 x 4inch high cake )
4 over ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
130ml canola oil
125gm self raising flour
125gm almond flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150gm caster sugar
25gm almond slivers and extra for the top
A super easy 5 minute salsa that requires only ingredients to be washed, cut and whizzed in a food processor. They all can be cut into roughly big pieces because they are all going to get chopped up small in the processor. I got the recipe for this delicious preservative free salsa from a fellow docent trainee Jane at National Museum of Singapore just yesterday. I made and served this today at a small gathering of friends and it was a SUPER HIT!
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1/2 medium red onion, cut big
2 medium tomatoes, cut into big pieces
1/2 green chilli, sliced
1 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
A small piece of yellow capsicum, cut into chunks
10 pieces of pickled jalapeno
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1) Wash and cut everything big. Place it in a food processor with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
2) Whizz it for 3-5 secs only.
3) Check for seasonings and serve with nacho bowl, chips or dips.
Chocolate and bananas? I was sceptical at first. By itelf, chocolate or banana cakes are are quite delicious. But I wasn't sure about combining both. My doubts were erased when I took a bite of this cake. There is something about the mellow comfort of the sweetness of the bananas mixed with the deep dark chocolate intensity, which I hadn't discovered before.
This is one of those tantalizing decadent cakes which you would keep in the freezer for the longest of times to make it last longer and longer or to spread your guilt of having such a rich cake (so me). Of course if you are a glutton who would rather have the cake sitting in your tummy then in the freezer asap, then my previous statement won't apply. I learnt to make this Choc Ganache Banana Cake recently at a baking studio. I was interested to learn more about the creaming and piping aspect of the cakes but came away with a whole lot more!! Didn't last long when I brought home as both my girls are huge choc fans, especially the rich dark choc kind!
To get your hands on this huge yummy Channing Tatum of cakes, firstly, make the cakes according to my earlier post Basic Banana Cake http://www.americanmoments.net/quick--easy-vegetarian-recipes/basic-banana-cake. If I post those pics and instructions, this post will become too long. This post is just to show how to mix and get the right consistency of the ganache and decorating the banana cakes with it.
2 round 7 inch/8 inch banana cakes
500ml whipping cream
500gm choc buttons (55% cocoa)
1) Boil the whipping cream till you can see steam misting. Keep stirring so that it doesn't stick to the base and start burning.
2) Measure out the choc buttons and place them in a metal bowl.
3) Pour the steaming cream into this bowl.
4) Start mixing from the middle using small circles till you get a smooth shiny texture. All the chocs buttons must be melted and mixed well.
5) Put this bowl in the freezer for 30mins to thicken the ganache till its spreadable consistency. Like the consistency of Nutella.
6) Now start assembling the cake proper. Put the base of the cake onto the cake turntable. A turntable is essential as it helps in the smoothening of the ganache on the sides in a hasty fashion. On the base, drop a dollop of the ganache and spread it around into a small circle. This forms the glue to stick the banana cake to the cake base. Place one of the banana cake over this and press a little in the centre.
7) Spread the ganache all over this banana cake using a slightly elevated palette knife. If the ganache is still too thin, pop it back into the freezer for 5-10 mins. The ganache is this pic is too thin. I popped the cake into the fridge too harden.
8) Place the other banana cake over this ganache covered banana cake and spread more ganache over the whole cake. The consistency in the pics below are better for spreading.
9) Start coating the sides of the cake with ganache too. It was already in the evening by the time I reached this stage of the cake decorating and the natural light had decreased. That explains the difference in the colour of the ganache.
10) Use a plastic icing smoother for smoothening the side of the cake.
11) Place the little matte gold balls in a string along the top rim of the cake. Then, just toss more of these balls over the top randomly. I did a bit of piping at the inner edge of the cake, but it looks quite amateurish as I'm so new to piping.
12) Serve cold with a nice cup of plain English Breakfast Tea, my favourite!
Best way to use over ripe bananas? In a cake or bread loaf of course! The recipe below is an easy fool proof recipe for a very basic banana cake. Just involves whisking and mixing and baking! I will post about finessing this cake into a luxurious knee buckling pretty sinful Choc Ganache Banana Cake in the next post.
Ingredients (for two 8 inch or three 6 inch round cakes)
250gm self raising flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
150 gm caster sugar
4 over ripe bananas (roughly 480gm in weight with skin)
130gm/ml vegetable oil (canola/grapeseed/sunflower)
3 eggs, beaten
1) Preheat oven to 180 deg C fan mode. First peel and mash the bananas into a soggy mess. The bananas must be quite over ripe. The riper they are, the more fragrant and delicious the cake.
2) Into this, add the vegetable oil and beaten eggs. Whisk them together and set aside.
3) Sieve the flour and baking soda first and then add the sugar. Mix well.
4) Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
5) Prepare 2 of 8 inch springform baking tin. Line the tins with baking sheet. I was making a double layered choc ganache cake today which explains why I have two tins lined with baking sheets. If you are using this recipe as a single cake, just pour the whole banana batter mix into one baking tin and bake (baking tin is slighly longer though at 40 -45 mins). For two cakes, measure the whole amount of batter without the mixing bowl and then divide by 2. Pare the kitchen scale and then pour half of the amount into each tin. So for example, if the total amount of batter is 1060 gm, each baking tin should have 530gm of batter.
6) Bake at 180 deg C for 25-30 mins Fan mode.
7) Use a slighly angled palette knife to loosen it on the sides and then disengage the base of the springform tin. Tip the cake over and place it right side up on a wire rack to cool.